Playing Games

He puts all his concentration into this game.

My kiddo is a really, really, REALLY bad loser. If he notices that there’s a possibility he won’t win the game, he will throw a fit. I have been purposefully avoiding playing board games with him for a few days because it gets so bad. If he does win, he celebrates. If he loses, temper tantrum. It’s as if he expects me to let him win.

And I refuse to do it.

It’s not like I win every game. I really don’t. He legitimately wins a lot.

Last night, we played Chutes & Ladders. At one point, I got to the ladder that takes you almost to the top. The kiddo then got the slide that takes you almost back to the start. He suddenly realized he was about to lose (possibly) and he got really upset. So I talked to him about winning and losing. He calmed down and we kept playing. I got knocked back a little bit. He got the big ladder. But then? I landed on this ladder that takes you directly to the winning spot. He cheered for me (a shock, seriously) but then he had to finish the game so that he could win too.

Then we played the Disney Cars Tire Fishing Game. It’s a difficult game, even for me, so it took a while. After playing for about 15 minutes, I had about ten tires and he only had four. He threw a monster fit. I told him if he was going to act like that, we weren’t going to play anymore. So he said FINE and I put my fishing pole down. Then he took all of the tires I had won, put them back on the board, and continued the game. By himself. Each time he caught a tire, he flashed me a proud smile and I applauded him.

But is that the right thing to do? It’s all so confusing. How do you teach a 4-year-old that he doesn’t always have to be the winner? We celebrate when he wins. When I try to celebrate my winning (without bragging), he gets upset.

Was there a point in his life when somebody let him win all the time, so he expects it from me?

Well that wouldn’t make sense. I’ve always been around. And I’ve never let him win. Sometimes I would help him a lot, especially when he doesn’t understand a game yet. But purposefully lose just so he feels good about himself? I won’t do it. Playing fairly, he still wins a lot of games. He’s really good at a lot of the games. And then some of them, like CandyLand, just depend on what card you happen to draw. It has nothing to do with skill or ability.

I just get confused. And sometimes really frustrated. For now, I’ll just keep playing the games with him and we’ll just continue to have the same conversation over and over about winning & losing, and that throwing tantrums when you lose makes people not want to play with you. Eventually it’ll start to stick, right?

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